AFTER nine years of toiling in the elite level, Marc Pittonet will - finally - bring up his 50th career game on Sunday. The Hawk-turned-Blue was drafted with pick No.50 back in 2014, before he crossed to the Blues after seven games in five seasons in brown and gold. The ruckman sat down with Carlton Media this week to speak on what he regarded as a sentimental, rather than major, milestone.
NINE years, 50 games.
It’s not the biggest milestone. But the best way to put is while I thought I could get there, there were a lot of years where I didn’t think I would.
I was that far off playing in my first year, played three in my second year and then waited nearly two years to the day for my fourth. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back out on an AFL field.
Then, Covid came when I was about to get the chance. I ended up going full-time uni and shaving a year off my commerce degree, because I felt I wouldn’t have achieved anything if footy was on hold for a year and I was stuck on seven games after six years.
I can tell you the exact amount of games I’ve played each year. Given some were months apart and there were a couple of years not playing, every game means so much more.
People outside of football just assumed I was so far from it that in 2017, they were asking if I had my affairs in order and if I was ready for life post-football.
I put so much pressure on myself just to play one game that it felt like a Grand Final whenever the opportunity arose. Back then, my good was good (not outstanding, but good enough to play), but my bad was awful.
Working with a performance mentor coach ever since my last year at Hawthorn was the turning point in my career. Funnily enough, now I feel like I’m known for being consistent, but I’m trying to raise that bar.
I like to think my two biggest mentors in football - Ben McEvoy and Matthew Kreuzer - are reflected in how I approach every game. Ironically, both were top-10 picks in the same 2007 draft. While they were different players, they had a lot of similarities: they just go, they’re team-oriented and all they care about is doing what the team needs to win.
I’m not someone who needs external motivation to get up to play, even though crowds like ours certainly help.
I was used to playing in front of 300 people for five years at Box Hill City Oval. I bloody love that place, but when you go from 300 to tens of thousands of people, I just hear noise and I love it.
It’s nice they’ve sold out the MCG this Sunday solely to mark my 50th.
The milestone definitely means something, partly because I spent all summer listening to Dylan Buckley on his podcast talking down his football career of 41 games.
I was on 41 myself. Flat.
I do have him and Daniel Gorringe to thank though. I get people who walk past me, nod to me and say ‘Strength’. Not ‘Hey mate’, just ‘Strength’.
It’s all part of it. I’ve really enjoyed everything about my time at Carlton and I still absolutely love football. It’s given me so much, not just in terms of having a career from it, but for the relationships I’ve formed and being part of something bigger than myself. To be at a club like Carlton, where the fans and the Club is a way of life — not every club gets that, so being part of that means the world.
Playing in front of a big crowd alongside your great mates in pursuit of something bigger makes it so much more worthwhile. I’m thankful for where I am and excited for where we’re going.
The fans have been great for me ever since I arrived . . . must be because I bleed passata.
My move all happened last minute, when Andrew Phillips went to Essendon and a back-up ruckman spot opened up. I was coming back from Europe and, as far as I knew, I thought I’d remain at Hawthorn, who liked me and were happy for me to stay. But I needed games to prove to myself that I was good enough, or even a chance to be good enough.
I was cut from Vic Metro in under-18s and told that I should go play SANFL. The feedback was despite trying to get drafted that year, they believed the best chance I had was getting drafted at 25 as a mature-aged ruckman. Most of my career, I’ve had people telling me I’m not very good.
But I’ve dedicated my energy to a small contingent that get around me and make me better. ‘Kreuz’ is one of those. I absolutely love him. His big thing is playing to your strengths, because you’re never going to chase anything being someone you’re not.
The games are coming a fair bit easier now, but the injuries were frustrating. When I was playing VFL, I reckon I missed five games in five years. Then I started playing and got two bouts of bad luck which you can’t do much about. The good thing is it won’t impact me going forward, and I like to think I look after my body really well.
I’m dating a physio, so the commitment to my career is evident.
Shoutout if you’re reading this, Elise.
There was a while there where I didn’t think I’d get a chance. I need to get to 100 now, but it’s nice to raise the bat.